André Thorn

How did you determine that college was the right path for you, and how did you decide where you would attend?

Growing up in Las Vegas, focusing on academics in high school, I knew that there would be some distractions that would limit my chances for success. I felt I needed to go away from home in order to stay focused, but remain in state to keep my costs of enrollment down. I knew that Nevada, Reno was right for me when I was offered scholarships and my decision was cemented when I visited the campus during new student orientation.

What were the biggest challenges you faced — from enrollment to diploma — and how did you overcome them?

Not having collegiate role models at my disposal meant that I needed to quickly discover how things “worked” on campus. That included learning where the resources were and meeting the influential people who make things happen. I got to know them really well and even worked in their office for my work-study job. It gave me immediate access to the people, places, programs and services on the campus. And  because I opened the mail for those influential people, I knew what was about to happen before they did!

Who inspired you, provided mentorship or otherwise helped you along the way?

Multiple individuals who I keep in contact to this day! Ada Taylor, Michael Coray and Hazel Ralston were administrators and faculty who challenged, fed, mentored and poured wisdom into me while I was a student at Nevada and after I graduated. They exposed me to opportunities for leadership which ultimately led to my first job (recruitment coordinator for my alma mater) in higher education after I earned my BA.

How did you meet people, make friends and get involved at your university?

I went to college on a music scholarship. This allowed me a built-in network of likeminded individuals (music lovers who may or may not be music majors) to connect with. We spend a lot of time rehearsing, performing and traveling, so we got to know each other really well. I was also a campus leader, serving as a member and ultimately president of two organizations — the Black Student Organization and my fraternity, which is the first historically Black fraternity on the UNR campus. This gave me a lot of cache’ and access to upper administration and allowed me to serve on some pretty important committees — and as the voice of the students!

Outside of your academic studies, what did college teach you about yourself? How did those lessons help you in your professional career?

My experiences taught me that I have a knack for uncovering and discovering resources within every institution (organization) I enter into. I learned that I have leadership qualities and capabilities and I learned that I am not shy (I grew up painfully shy) about speaking truth to power. All of these qualities I embody to this day because of my experiences at my undergraduate institution and from my mother who never went to college.

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